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Celeste Barber’s $51 Million Fundraising Effort Won’t Go To Australian Charities

The Supreme Court has handed down its ruling

During the bushfires that devastated the country earlier this year comedian Celeste Barber – triggered by her mother-in-law’s situation in the south-coast town of Eden – decided to take matters into her own hands. Barber began a fundraising effort on her Facebook page, which eventually went on to raise over $51 million for charities and those personally affected.

It was the social media platform’s biggest-ever fundraising effort. 

But while the money raised was meant to be divvied up between various Australian charities and families who were doing it tough, her decision to nominate the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Brigades Donation Fund, has meant that the money will not be allowed to be given out to any other organisations. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the donated money could not be given directly to volunteers, victims or shared with other charities. Instead, any donations the service receives can only be used on “training, resources and fire equipment.” 

RELATED: Celeste Barber On Equality And What Women Want

“Some donors may have intended or hoped that the money they donated would be used for purposes beyond those which the court has advised are permissible,” NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Slattery said.

“Despite the trustees’ wish to honour those intentions or hopes the law provides principles that ensure a degree of certainty in the application of trust funds including charitable trust funds.”

Justice Slattery has ruled the money could be given to the families of fallen firefighters and used for trauma counselling.

The court’s decision excludes causes which many donors expected their money to go towards, including the Australian Red Cross and animal welfare group WIRES.


Barber responded to the ruling on Instagram, saying: “Turns out that studying acting at university does not make me a lawmaker.”

“So the money will be in the very capable, very grateful hands of the NSW RFS. To our volunteer firefighters, you are rock stars like no others.”

She also shared the NSW RFS were doing “incredible things” with the money. “They’re going to be doing trauma counselling, money is going to families who lost firefighters — yes, it’s going to injured firefighters as well. It isn’t going everywhere we wanted it to.

“I want to give you all the love again because holy shitballs Batman, you made a massive difference, it’s crazy.”

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